Senior Care: Understanding Legal Documents

March 26, 2014

Is it obvious that mom or dad is starting to have trouble caring for themselves, or deteriorating mentally, physically or both? If so then you’re likely feeling uncertain of what is to come and how to ensure that your loved one is taken care of. Helping them to fill out and submit the necessary legal documents pertaining to their finances and health is a great first step. It may feel uncomfortable discussing these documents with your family members and particularly a parent, one but taking care of them early-on will reduce stress down the road for all those involved. This is particularly important if your loved one has been diagnosed with a disease like dementia that may eventually deem them incapable of making sound decisions.

Here are the documents you should be aware of:

Advance Health Care Directives

  • Health-Care Proxy – This document specifies who your loved one has selected to make health care related decisions for them if they become unable to.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – This document specifies who your loved one has selected to make bank transactions, write checks, sign social security checks and etc., if they become unable to do so themselves.
  • Living Will – This document outlines how your loved one wishes to be treated if they are unable to speak for themselves. Typically this document includes information regarding whether your loved one would like life-sustaining measures taken in the event of a terminal diagnosis.

HIPPA Release – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was created to prohibit insurance companies and doctors from sharing patient information with anyone other than those directly involved in their care. By signing this release form your loved one is giving someone they love and trust access to their medical information.

A Will – This document summarizes who inherits what in the event of your loved one’s death.

 If you’re a Massachusetts resident and would like to learn more about these documents or to fill them out, please go here: http://www.caringinfo.org/files/public/ad/Massachusetts.pdf. We’re also happy to work with you to answer any other related questions so please feel free to reach out!